Terrance Gore’s 13th-inning at-bat doomed Cubs

57 Comments

Without Terrance Gore, the Cubs might not have been able to make it through regulation tied. Without Terrance Gore, the Cubs might have been able to make it into the 14th inning.

Gore, who is only on the Cubs’ postseason roster for his speed, played an integral part in the Cubs’ 2-1, 13-inning loss to the Rockies in the NL Wild Card game on Tuesday night. With the Cubs trailing 1-0 in the bottom of the eighth, Gore pinch-ran for Anthony Rizzo, who singled with two outs. Gore promptly stole second base, then came around to score easily on an RBI double to left-center field by Javier Báez. The Cubs might not have been able to tie the game if Rizzo had not been replaced by Gore.

In the bottom of the 13th, after the Rockies hit a trio of singles to break the 1-1 tie to take a 2-1 lead, Gore led off the inning. Gore has been in the majors for parts of five seasons, mostly as a September call-up with the Royals and Cubs. He has taken a grand total of 19 plate appearances despite appearing in 63 games. He has hit .063/.211/.063 but has stolen 27 bases in 31 attempts. Gore’s postseason numbers are even more absurd: he has appeared in eight games but taken no official plate appearances. He swiped four bags in five attempts and scored two runs.

If you’re Gore facing Scott Oberg to lead off the bottom of the 13th inning, you leave the bat on your shoulders the entire time, right? Go up with a wiffle ball bat. That’s mostly what Gore did. He worked the count to 2-2, then appeared to be nicked on his left shoulder by a 96 MPH fastball that ran a bit too far inside. The pitch was a cross-up between Oberg and catcher Tony Wolters and ended up nailing home plate umpire Chris Guccione. Gore was awarded first base, but had to come back after replay review revealed that he was not, in fact, hit by Oberg’s fastball. With a 3-2 count, the bat should never leave Gore’s shoulders. Gore swung and missed at a slider that dove low and outside of the strike zone. Oberg proceeded to strike out Báez and Albert Almora, Jr. to end the game, sending the Rockies to the NLDS.

Oberg has been excellent this year, particularly when it comes to being stingy about walks. After walking 10.4 percent of batters he faced in his first three seasons in the big leagues between 2015-17, he walked only 5.3 percent of batters faced this season. When facing a full count, Oberg threw ball four in six of 32 opportunities, or 18.75 percent. Not great odds, but better odds than Gore and his .063 batting average swinging the bat and hoping for a base hit or forcing a fielding error.

The Cubs had no position players left, so Gore was on his own. If Gore didn’t understand the situation, manager Joe Maddon and his coaching staff should have. They should have given Gore direct orders not to swing the bat.

Is it all Gore’s fault the Cubs are already eliminated from the playoffs? Of course not, as of the 50 Cubs batters who came to the plate, only 11 reached base. 10 were stranded as the club went 1-for-6 with runners in scoring position. Rockies pitching racked up 16 strikeouts. But if Gore were to get on by drawing a walk (or being hit by a pitch), it’s nearly a foregone conclusion that he moves himself into scoring position. He might even be able to get to third base on his own, opening up the possibility for a sacrifice fly, an RBI ground out, or a chance to score on a wild pitch/passed ball. It was a pivotal moment in the game, with a leverage index of 3.53 (an average LI is 1.00). And it’s one Cubs fans will be remembering until spring training begins next year.

Astros clinch AL West for third consecutive year

Bob Levey/Getty Images
Leave a comment

For the third consecutive season, the Astros are AL West champions. The ‘stros clinched the division on Sunday afternoon with a convincing 13-5 win over the Angels. They were backed by three homers from leadoff man George Springer and individual homers from Alex Bregman and Aledmys Díaz.

Springer has the 22nd three-homer game in baseball this season. He’s the first Astro to hit three homers in a game since Yordan Álvarez last month, on August 10.

Justin Verlander lasted five innings in Sunday’s start, yielding two runs on six hits and a pair of walks with five strikeouts. The right-hander is arguably the frontrunner for the AL Cy Young Award, now 20-6 with a 2.53 ERA and a 288/42 K/BB ratio in 217 innings on the year. Verlander is 12 strikeouts shy of the 300-strikeout milestone and six strikeouts short of 3,000 for his career. If the Astros stay on schedule, Verlander would pitch the second-to-last game of the regular season against the Angels.

Sunday’s win marked No. 102 on the season for the Astros. The franchise record is 103 wins set last year. With six games remaining, it seems likely the Astros will set a new record.

The Astros and Yankees both won on Sunday, meaning the Astros remain a half-game ahead in the race for home field advantage. The No. 1 seed will also have the privilege of playing the Wild Card winner, which is down to the Athletics, Rays, and Indians.